Friday 23 January 2009
Bryan Singer takes a break from superhero movies (X-Men, Superman Returns) to tell the story of a real-life hero.
Claus von Stauffenberg, a veteran colonel of the German campaign in North Africa, spearheaded a group of high-ranking German officers in a plot to assassinate the Fuhrer at his Wolf's Lair HQ in July, 1944.
Tom Cruise plays the colonel, a distinctive figure with his eye patch and one arm (the other lost in combat), leading a cadre of British character actors – Bill Nighy, Eddie Izzard, Kenneth Branagh and Terence Stamp – towards their doom. Tom Wilkinson plays a wavering general, while David Bamber offers a fine cameo as Hitler. Their acting isn't the problem, it's simply their unlikeliness as German officers: excepting Bamber and the lipless Branagh, who was also good as Reinhard Heydrich in the television movie Conspiracy, these Brit faces have a kind of jolly, well-fed familiarity that cuts against the Teutonic model. When the conspirators each hold up a yellow card – a signal of their allegiance – they look more like a gang of Premier League football referees doing fancy dress.
Yet Valkyrie is not without its excitements. The build-up to the pivotal moment is expertly handled (almost in real time) and for a while, agonisingly, the plot appears to have succeeded. The bomb which Stauffenberg placed beneath a conference table exploded on cue, but its ultimate aim was frustrated: they had scorched the snake, but not killed it. The film, written by Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander, in its final third examines the aftermath of the assassination attempt, when the conspirators planned to initiate a coup and use the reserve army to neutralise the threat of the SS. This, too, has some potency, but without a comparable interest in psychology – the plotters' or anyone else's – it feels no more authentic than Stauffenberg's glass eyeball.
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientists who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Ebola outbreak: What is bushmeat – and is it to blame for the disease that has killed thousands?
- 3 Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' by Antiques Roadshow's Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
- 4 Meet Thea, Norway's 12-year-old child bride
- 5 Russell Brand might seem like a sexy revolutionary worth getting behind, but he will only fail his fans
Breaking Bad season 6 is still not happening
Doctor Who review 'Flatline': Clara isn’t half bad as the Time Lord
Alfred Hitchcock's unseen Holocaust documentary to be screened
X Factor 2014 results: Chloe Jasmine and Stephanie Nala sent home
Star Wars memorabilia called a 'bit of plastic' by Antiques Roadshow's Fiona Bruce valued at £50,000
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Sorry Judy Finnigan – Ched Evans is no less sickening than an alleyway rapist
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Workers 'could be forced to pay £5 a week' to get benefits
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: 'Injustice has persisted for too long'